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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Harnessing Synergistic Biostimulatory Processes: A Plausible Approach for Enhanced Crop Growth and Resilience in Organic Farming

Sani, Md. Nasir Hossain; Yong, Jean W.H


Simple Summary Demand for organically grown crops has risen globally due to its healthier and safer food products. From a sustainability perspective, organic farming offers an eco-friendly cultivation system that minimizes agrochemicals and producing food with little or no environmental footprint. However, organic agriculture's biggest drawback is the generally lower and variable yield in contrast to conventional farming. Compatible with organic farming, the selective use of biostimulants can close the apparent yield gap between organic and conventional cultivation systems. A biostimulant is defined as natural microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) or biologically active substances that are able to improve plant growth and yield through several processes. Biostimulants are derived from a range of natural resources including organic materials (composts, seaweeds), manures (earthworms, fish, insects) and extracts derived from microbes, plant, insect or animal origin. The current trend is indicative that a mixture of biostimulants is generally delivering better growth, yield and quality rather than applying biostimulant individually. When used correctly, biostimulants are known to help plants cope with stressful situations like drought, salinity, extreme temperatures and even certain diseases. More research is needed to understand the different biostimulants, key components, and also to adjust the formulations to improve their reliability in the field. Demand for organically grown food crops is rising substantially annually owing to their contributions to human health. However, organic farm production is still generally lower compared to conventional farming. Nutrient availability, content consistency, uptake, assimilation, and crop responses to various stresses were reported as critical yield-limiting factors in many organic farming systems. In recent years, plant biostimulants (BSs) have gained much interest from researchers and growers, and with the objective of integrating these products to enhance nutrient use efficiency (NUE), crop performance, and delivering better stress resilience in organic-related farming. This review gave an overview of direct and indirect mechanisms of microbial and non-microbial BSs in enhancing plant nutrient uptake, physiological status, productivity, resilience to various stressors, and soil-microbe-plant interactions. BSs offer a promising, innovative and sustainable strategy to supplement and replace agrochemicals in the near future. With greater mechanistic clarity, designing purposeful combinations of microbial and non-microbial BSs that would interact synergistically and deliver desired outcomes in terms of acceptable yield and high-quality products sustainably will be pivotal. Understanding these mechanisms will improve the next generation of novel and well-characterized BSs, combining microbial and non-microbial BSs strategically with specific desired synergistic bio-stimulatory action, to deliver enhanced plant growth, yield, quality, and resilience consistently in organic-related cultivation.


plant biostimulants; synergistic effect; nutrient use efficiency; abiotic stress; crop resilience; organic farming; phytohormones; microbes

Published in

2021, volume: 11, number: 1, article number: 41

Authors' information

Sani, Md. Nasir Hossain
Bangor University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biosystems and Technology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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